Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Best Laid Plans-Random Thoughts on Death and Living

"Death is a natural part of life. Rejoice for those around you who transform into the Force."
YODA, Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

I never really thought about death before baby Marc but his death was such a slap in the face that now I can't ignore it.  At any given moment something crazy could happen while you are doing normal everyday things and we or someone we love could be gone in an instant. Case in point:

2007: Humberto Hernandez, a 24-year-old Oakland, California resident, was killed after being struck in the face by an airborne fire hydrant while walking. A passing car had struck the fire hydrant and the water pressure shot the hydrant at Hernandez with enough force to kill him
2008: Isaiah Otieno, 23, a Kenyan student living in Cranbrook, British Columbia, was killed when a Bell 206 helicopter crashed on top of him as he walked along a residential street
2010-Amy Rose Coxall, a 15-year-old British schoolgirl studying in Hong Kong, died of strangulation shortly after her scarf got caught in the wheel of a go-kart she was driving on a karting course.
2010-Jimi Heselden, owner of the Segway motorized scooter company, was killed when he accidentally drove off a cliff on a Segway at his estate at Thorp Arch near Boston Spa.

Ok ok...the likelihood of myself or someone I love dying from a freak accident like these is slim I know but then I think about my cousin Alex who was healthy and in his early twenties when he had a brain aneurism that killed him instantly.  No warning. No battle with illness or old age. Just gone. Gone in just a few moments. Even though I have experienced the death of baby Marc it is still almost unfathomable. Someone can be alive and talking one moment and then just completely gone the next. My baby was kicking and moving with a strong heartbeat one minute and the very next was hanging on by a thread...that broke.

"How surely are the dead beyond death. Death is what the living carry with them. A state of dread, like some uncanny foretaste of a bitter memory. But the dead do not remember and nothingness is not a curse. Far from it"

Death is not a subject we talk about in society very often. I would say that it is hard to find people who are actually comfortable talking about death. To talk about death is morbid or weird and most people will probably change the conversation in favor of a lighter topic but one thing baby Marc is teaching me is how life is so fragile. Thinking about death and it's inevitability and it's element of surprise brings perspective and forces one to see what is truly important.
I used to need to plan things, need to know what was going to happen each year over the next ten years. How many kids will we have, how will they be spaced, when will I get a job, when will we buy a house, I just so badly needed to have a plan. What did that do for me? It only made me worried when things weren't right on track or had to be changed. I would waste hours of my present day thinking of the plans. Now I see painfully that we can't control everything and our plans no matter how carefully laid can be changed in a matter of seconds.
Of course we still need to plan, have hopes and dreams and set goals for the future.  That is the happy kind of planning. I am talking about the obsessive and stressful type where you are so consumed with that specific course that you don't take the time to enjoy where you are at the moment.
At the moment I am consumed with stress, anxiety and all sorts of emotions but I do take a minute each day to think about how lucky I am to have what I have in this very moment. I do try to learn from baby Marc and live as much as possible in the present. Naturally I worry about things in the near future but I don't worry about long term things anymore. Not like I used to. We will talk about when to have baby #3 and #4 when we are ready, I will look a teaching job when the time is right, maybe Marc will go back to school, and maybe we will buy a house in a few years. Those kinds of things will happen when they happen and those decisions cannot be made right now with the limited information that we have. Those decisions have to made as you come to them because we never know what tomorrow holds and how what happens tomorrow will shape our future plans.

One has to live in the present. Whatever is past is gone beyond recall; whatever is future remains beyond one’s reach, until it becomes present. Remembering the past and giving thought to the future are important, but only to the extent that they help one deal with the present.” – S.N. Goenka

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